This is my
second blog in a series to present highlights from the
International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN's) Water and Nature
Initiative (WANI) toolkit. The WANI toolkit is aimed at helping communities
improve water governance programs
My first blog on the WANI toolkit posted November 26th
presented Rule: Reforming water
governance. It provides guidance on understanding and developing
basic principles of good water governance and necessary elements of a strong
water governance program.
The focus of this blog - WANI's Negotiate: Reaching agreements over water - builds on the basic
principles of water governance and presents practical steps on how to negotiate
effective multi-stakeholder agreements on water rights and governance.
Lasting and effective agreements that address complex
water issues are best achieved through constructive engagement and open and
cooperative forms of negotiations. The complexity of water governance issues
can include identifying and determining the value of ecosystem services,
creating incentives and financing mechanisms, what capacity exists versus what
is ultimately needed, how to hold responsible parties accountable to the terms
of the agreement, and establishing water allotments that sufficiently fulfill
all stakeholders' needs, among other issues. Negotiate: Reaching agreements over water addresses the following
concepts of local water governance negotiations:
- Competing priorities and
uncertainties make water allocation decisions complex
- Environmental flows as a
governance tool to support water allocation decisions
- Constructive engagement
catalyses water solutions that are durable
- Good water governance
generates adaptive capacity
Negotiate: Reaching agreements over water begins
by making the case for consensus based, multi-stakeholder negotiations -
engagement of all key stakeholders from the onset will likely create more
workable solutions they would not otherwise achieve. It frames
water agreement negotiations on the concept of 4Rs of negotiations - rewards,
rights, risks and responsibilities. For example:
- The rewards associated with
different options across all stakeholders.
- The involuntary and
voluntary water-related risks.
- Water-related rights.
- The various water-related
responsibilities of State and non-State actors.
By identifying the 4Rs for each
stakeholder group that depends or has an interest in the water being
negotiated, the importance of the subject water source is discussed and
negotiated in a holistic manner. This helps all stakeholders understand the
needs of and the importance of solutions that are mutually beneficial to all
negotiations are best conducted through a process that involves convening
appropriate stakeholders, establishing responsibilities and objectives,
deliberating and establishing agreement priorities and implementing and
monitoring the agreement. The resultant strong and effective partnerships will
improve the long-term implementation of the agreement.
Developing multi-stakeholder water governance is a
long-term process that involves continued engagement and negotiations. It
unpacks constructive approaches such as Multi-Stakeholder Platforms (MSPs) and
Consensus Building, and finally focuses on the diversity of agreements that can
be produced to create more effective long-term water allocation and use
agreements. MSPs are forums that focus on
- Sharing knowledge,
experiences and perspectives
- Generating and exploring
- Informing and shaping
negotiations and decisions
They create an open forum where
differences are recognized and all parties gain a better understanding of
complex issues. The MSPs are most effective when they are open to all vested
stakeholders. This is best assured by mapping stakeholders who impact or are
impacted by the allocation of rights to the subject water source. These stakeholders can be prioritized
by their influence on or impact related to the 4Rs of negotiation - e.g.
entities who currently have direct responsibilities over or rights to the
source of water and those who would be impacted by changes to water use or
The value of Consensus Building
has many benefits including focusing on mutual gains by focusing on interests
and negotiating across multiple issues, it often prioritizes scientific data
over self-interests and is aimed at reaching mutually acceptable agreements
that all parties can and will implement.
Water agreements will require
continued monitoring and adjustments over time. The partnerships and processes
developed through the above mentioned concepts will likely result in lasting
positive exchange and cooperation among all participating stakeholders.